Friday, May 14, 2010

Photography workshop report

The photography workshop for the Boundary Artisan Association, with professional photographer, Jason Coleman, was tonight.  It was great.  We each learned how to take pictures of our own specific product -- fiberart, weaving, pottery, stained glass, jewelry, wall art.  Jason addressed each of the special needs in product photography that we each faced and offered suggestions for lighting, reflective light, and using a soft box or product tent to diffuse light.

The purchase that I made a few days ago of the 30 inch Portable Photo studio, was judged to be a very good deal at under $100.  Jason brought instructions on how to make your own portable photo studio for about $100, but he didn't hand them out because the purchased one was judged more than adequate and at a great price.  And Jason recommended that we each invest in one for our own use and set it up in the studio as  a permanent fixture for taking pictures of our work.  It works by diffusing the light source to get rid of shadows.

Jason's recommendation was that the two lights be placed at different distances from the tent so that one was less bright or intense than the other.  This gives a 3 dimensional feel to the picture, rather than both lights offering the same intensity light which would make the picture look flat.  This also works for giving some definition to the texture of the handwoven or handspun fiber arts.  He also suggested that light can be increased by adding a white board -- even a large sheet of bristol board or plastic -- as a reflector to bounce light back on the piece being photographed.

Lots of ideas for taking photographs of anything from large wall art to tiny jewelry -- getting rid of unwanted shadows and reflections but increasing the wanted shadows that reveal texture or details.  But the gist of it was "control the light".  And then play with the light to get the effect that you are looking for, by using reflectors (umbrellas, sheets of white board or fabric, a product tent, or even pieces of cardboard to block the light.

Another tip he offered which can improve all photography -- even the pictures of the lambs in the pasture:  Before taking that photograph, do a "z" check.  This means scan the photo across the top, diagonally and then across the bottom for anything amiss.  Change anything that needs to be fixed by adjusting the camera angle.  Then shoot the picture. 

I was really pleased with the good information about product photography that Jason shared with the 7 artisans that attended the workshop.  I just wish all our members took the time to attend.  It was well worth the 2 hour evening.  And we kept the cost at $15 per member, by subsidizing the workshop fee.  It was an amazing evening.  Now I'm looking forward to taking pictures of my work for the website -- something I have dreaded previously.

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